The research sets the groundwork for novel techniques that could simultaneously slow down biological and psychological ageing and enhance wellbeing.
The detrimental effects of loneliness on psychological health are widely known. However, it might also be having an impact on your physical health, notably by accelerating the ageing process of your body.
According to a recent study, loneliness accelerated people’s biological ageing more than the use of tobacco.
The study examined blood and biometric data from around 12,000 Chinese individuals using a deep-learning “ageing clock.”
An ageing clock is a statistical model that calculates biological age as opposed to chronological age, which is the actual age of a person as determined by their birthdate.
The clock generated an age forecast by using 16 blood biomarkers, 7 biometric factors, and the participant’s biological sex.
The study’s authors, led by the biotechnology firm Deep Longevity, expressed surprise at the extent to which psychological factors, as opposed to well-established physical factors like a smoking habit, could affect ageing.
The molecular ageing processes of a person are sped up if this model recognises them as being older. This feature can be exploited to stop the progression of diseases associated with ageing or identify techniques to delay ageing.
The most significant age predictors, according to the researchers, were blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), spirometry, which is lung capacity, and cystatin C, a protein that indicates kidney health.
The clock calculated that smoking caused an additional 1.25 years of ageing after analysing the data from 11,914 Chinese individuals.
However, loneliness may result in an additional 1.65 years of ageing.
But it wasn’t only the emotion that was to blame for this accelerated ageing. A wide host of psychological indicators of wellbeing, such as anxiety, hopelessness, depression, unhappiness, and bad sleep, were also involved.
It was also discovered that those who had never been married had aged an additional 0.35 years as a result of being single, while those who lived in rural areas had aged an additional 0.39 years.
The authors came to the conclusion that, given the close relationship between psychological conditions and ageing, poor mental health needs to be acknowledged as a significant factor in the ageing process.
They contend that the research sets the groundwork for novel techniques that could simultaneously slow down biological and psychological ageing and enhance wellbeing.